Perhaps the title there is a bit misleading. Nothing about this movie is really at all like the fantastic BBC show. However, the building itself looks like Downton Abbey. Well, maybe only a little. I think what I’m trying to say is it’s a big, sprawling, old building. Oh! It’s also a real place. A former real-life psychiatric hospital, just as the movie tells us. Now that I cleared that up, let’s press on. This is low budget type of movie I found at times both fun and atrocious. I mean that as a compliment because I was really entertained by this little film. Allow me to introduce Sean Stone. Sean stars in, directs, and co-wrote this film along with fellow writer/star Alex Wraith. Sean looks like Maroon 5’s Adam Levine if didn’t have that emaciated thing going on. Oh, he also happens to be the son of acclaimed director Oliver Stone. His dear ole mum and dad even have small roles in the film. The third lead character is a girl named Antonella. All the leads use both their IRL names as their character names too, which is convenient for our purposes today. But, it also makes things kind of fun in a real/not real, could-this-be-based-on-actual-events territory. Sean seems like the level headed type, I daresay even a bit boring. Alex is impulsive, scattered and a smidgen cray-cray. Antonella is obsessed with Medusa. She also has a tendency to swing back and forth in various scenes from talking a big game about going into an abandoned mental hospital, and then freaking the fuck out in others and constantly repeat silly phrases such as, ” I have to leave here, I can’t be in THIS room any more!” Forgive the paraphrasing. So what are these kids doing here? The three are making a documentary of sorts about the titular location, Greystone Park. Now in ruins, it once was a mental hospital known for using extreme methods (electroshock therapy, etc) on their patients. There was an infamous client there called Billy Lasher who could still be hanging around in an un-dead sense. In fact, the whole place is reportedly haunted and has a way of messing with the minds of those who go exploring within the building.
So this movie has one of those opening sequences that always remind me of music videos. Kind of flashy, jumpy, cut scenes, all black and white creepy images, you get the idea. So, imagine my surprise when the pacing of the thing suddenly slowed down to a crawl. Everyone knows I enjoy a good slow-burner, but this was getting silly. When I was really feeling the drag, stuff got interesting. There starts to be subtle little clues in the background of shots, I love that kind of thing. And then Alex is acting more crazy. Not just reckless, but obsessive.
Let me digress from one moment to talk about an issue dear to my heart. I happen to be doll collector. And I love a creepy doll. We get some good doll spooky-ness here. Future film makers, please don’t over use the doll tactic. At the point of abuse you run the risk of alienating the doll collecting community. That is all.
At the climax of this movie, things take a turn for the better. The characters are just spiraling into madness, and it’s great fun to watch. The scary stuff is cranking up and getting more interesting. And then, there is THAT scene. It is somewhat random, and not eluded to or explained, but I freakin’ loved it. After the break below I will go into some detail for those who don’t mind a spoiler.
To recap, this movie is a little rough. It has that look and feel of a beginning filmmaker(s). But that isn’t a bad thing. Everybody has to start somewhere. And these early movies can be kind of fearless. I couldn’t help but root for it. And even though it had it’s low points (some cliche dialogue and characters, oddly slow pacing here and there), it also had good things going for it. I didn’t shut it off after 20 minutes so that means I was entertained.
Spoiler: I wanna chat about that scene in the movie that got me all juiced. In case you couldn’t tell, it’s the scene in the church room. The boys are looking at what they think is Antonella dancing all hippy-ish at the front of the pulpit. The boys exchange some funny dialogue full of self referential humor, which was great. The ruined church has turned into this super creepy black, Santanic-seeming mass. There are these goat-masked/puppet things set up around the pulpit as if addressing their congregation of demons and just being scary while she dances about for them all grotesquely! When Sean gets brave enough to try to approach and lure Antonella out, the dancer turns around to reveal she’s not Antonella at all! Well, if she is she’s some kind of evil demon albino version of herself. Nothing leading up to this point seemed to indicate a Satanic black mass was eminent. It was random. But that means it was unexpected. Plus it was twisted and fun.